Paula thinks about a question she was asked recently.
On Monday morning, I gave a talk to a local book club. It
was a similar talk to several I have done in the past, as I talked about my
writing ‘career’, including the differences between writing in the 1960s and writing
today, and I ended up giving some examples of where my ideas come from.
At the end of previous talks, I’ve had various questions,
ranging from ‘How much research do you have to do?’ to ‘How much do you earn?'
(to which I usually reply, ‘Probably not even as much as J.K. Rowling would
earn for one page of her Harry Potter novels!’)
This time I had a different question. Someone said, “They
say there is a novel in everyone. Do you think anyone can write one?’
I had to think on my feet! In the end I said something like,
“First, you have to want to
write and then you have to make the time to do it, rather than just write when
you happen to have some spare time or feel like writing. It can take a lot of
time and hard work – not just the actual writing, but also the research you
need to do, even for a contemporary novel. You might also have to learn about
plotting, using dialogue, and developing your characters, and I also think you
need to have a good grasp of grammar, punctuation and spelling.”
That’s a summary of my ‘off the cuff’ answer, which I’m
aware (a) might have over-emphasised the time and hard work elements but (b)at
the same time, only covered part of what is involved in writing a novel!
While we were having a cup of tea and cake afterwards,
someone else said to me, “I couldn’t write a novel. I don’t have the
imagination to create a story."
On my way home, I thought about this and realised this
person was probably right. Perhaps the first essential is imagination, closely followed by the need/desire to write.
What do you think? Can
anyone write a novel? And how would you have answered that question?